By Shaneli Mirpuri
In a society where celebrity gossip and reality television are some of the most revered forms of entertainment, they are still undermined by the greatest thing on TV: talk shows.
The concept of a talk show is not revolutionary in itself, but they are spun into some of the best comedic and influential programs on air today thanks to the hosts.
Talk show hosts range in variety with at least one out there to please everyone’s taste. From Conan O’Brien to Tyra Banks, there are many possibilities to fill your television screen. However, out of the plethora of hosts, only four are truly deserving of the title “great”: Jay Leno, Jimmy Fallon, Ellen Degeneres, and Oprah Winfrey.
Jay Leno was one of the most recognized hosts of “The Tonight Show” with over 3.5 million regular viewers and 4,610 episodes in his 22 years on the show, according to Nielsen ratings. Leno was the perfect American humorist and political satirist that never failed to make the audience laugh.
In addition, Leno’s unique sense of humor and fantastic pranks, such as his free talking photo booth, provided for a different experience every night.
Another great late night talk show host is Jimmy Fallon, who has not only conquered the late night market, but also the internet. Though Fallon spends much less time talking to guests and far more time on music and comedy sketches, he turns his talk show into a variety show, which pleasantly diverts from the traditional idea of the late night talk show.
Fallon transforms the talk show universe one step at a time. As he increasingly breaks the late night talk show mold, his audience grows (8.5 million viewers in its first week alone, according to Nielsen) due to his goofy gimmicks that go viral online.
Shifting from late night to the realm of daytime talk shows, we get to Ellen Degeneres as the most liked talk show host proven by high Positive Q Score, which rates a celebrity’s likeability. Ellen connects to her viewers and audience by speaking directly to them as well as dancing with them during her opening sequence and then making them laugh.
If that did not prove her popularity enough, she is also revered as the best Oscar host of all time by many critics and celebrities. She also broke the record for most retweets on Twitter, beating President Obama for the record while surpassing 3 million retweets.
Degeneres also stands up for her beliefs, including gay rights as a proud lesbian herself, and inspires many to simply be who they are. In addition, she is involved with 44 charitable organizations and helps people’s dreams come true, including cancer patients and families in dire need of money. She supports the people who need it the most and is always giving, truly making people’s lives better beyond the television screen.
Degeneres was originally inspired by the woman who is considered to be the biggest and best talk show host of all time, Oprah Winfrey. With 4,561 episodes over 25 years, according to Nielsen, Oprah found a place in all Americans’ hearts.
The Oprah Winfrey Show is regarded as one of the most highly influential shows of all time by many, including Barack Obama and “USA Today,” with most of its topics providing a platform used to teach and inspire her viewers. Providing her viewers with a positive and spiritually uplifting experience, Winfrey featured book clubs, compelling interviews, self-improvement segments, and philanthropic forays into world events.
Winfrey’s show outdid all others in the field of philanthropy. Her Oprah’s Angel Network has raised over $51 million since 1998 and also started up schools in South Africa. Her most famous philanthropic act was her segment, “Oprah’s Favorite Things,” in which she would give her audience gifts like cars and trips to Australia. Otherwise, every week she would be paying off someone’s mortgage or helping those who need it.
Between all of these talk show hosts, they all have one thing in common: they work their way into our hearts and live in our memories forever, whether because they made us laugh when we needed it most or touched us in a life-changing manner.